NHTSA website has sporadic outages after Takata recall

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s web traffic hit an all-time record Wednesday after the government announced Takata Corp. was declaring nearly 34 million vehicles defective — a move that will prompt the largest vehicle recall campaign in U.S. history.

After getting more than 50 times normal traffic Tuesday and Wednesday, the government’s safercar.gov website has reported some sporadic outages in some functions. The site was down for days last year, after millions of vehicles for Takata air bags were recalled.

The Japanese airbag firm’s move announced Tuesday will effectively double the number of vehicles that have been recalled to date for inflators that may explode with deadly force that are linked to six deaths and more than 100 injuries.

NHTSA spokesman Gordon Trowbridge said NHTSA’s website received an all-time high 598,000 lookup requests for vehicle identification numbers to determine if a car or truck has an uncompleted recall as of 4 p.m. Wednesday — after a previous record 571,000 on Tuesday.

“For comparison’s sake, the daily average for May 11-14 was 9,600 searches. Our all-time previous record was just over 100,000 searches. We nearly topped that daily record in our busiest 30-minute period yesterday, receiving about 90,000 requests at peak,” he said.

Trowbridge said NHTSA is “making additional changes overnight to add capacity.” Many U.S. senators urged owners to go to the site to check to see if their vehicles are covered.

The new recalls by 11 automakers won’t be posted on NHTSA’s website until next week at the earliest — since it takes time once automakers approve the recalls to input the numbers on the website.

“Until the auto companies are able to process the information from Takata’s filings yesterday, we will not have VIN data that reflects these expanded recalls. We expect to have that data sometime next week. So we’re asking people to watch this page, where we will update make-and-model info from manufacturers as we have it,” Trowbridge said.

“NHTSA took a number of steps to add capacity to the site before yesterday’s announcement, and we’ve taken additional steps today. Two things we’ve done to make sure VIN searches have a chance to get the info they need: We’ve added a button on safercar.gov that goes directly to the VIN search page, and we’ve moved additional material from safercar.gov onto other servers to free up capacity. Also, if a VIN search on our site times out, it automatically directs users to a page with links to VIN lookups from individual manufacturers, so they can get the info they need,” Trowbridge said.